War against inefficiency in public sector
As we have mentioned often in
these columns with the end of the war the Government's attention
is increasingly being focused on fields which were hitherto
largely neglected. Even during the victory celebrations in the
immediate aftermath to the end to the war the President declared
war on drugs, alcohol, corruption, the underworld etc. These
evils largely escaped the attention of all Governments whose
focus was on the war. As a result all these evils snowballed
into a state that bred a climate of impunity across the board.
President Rajapaksa has now declared war against inefficiency
in the public sector, which has been long overdue. Addressing a
function to honour a group of District Secretaries at Temple
Trees on Monday the President said his goal was to achieve a
successful State by launching a war against inefficiency through
The President said "all this time our attention was drawn
towards the war. Now that the war has been won we have devoted
full attention towards the people and their needs and to ensure
an efficient public service."
The move no doubt is going to win many a plaudit to the
President from the much harried general public who had been made
to suffer at the hands of our so called public servants for
long. It is common knowledge that our public service has fallen
to the lowest depths with the cancer of corruption lethargy and
inefficiency eaten deep into the edifice.
We have 1.2 million Public servants (5 percent of the
population) and it is common knowledge that the bulk of these
are deadwood, time servers of no productive worth. The blame of
course lay in the politicisation of the public service but that
is neither here nor there. The public sector became a ready
source of employment to the supporters of successive
Governments, with no qualification or ability.
The political patronage gave them the license to do as they
please with the result that the Public sector is today full of
square pegs in round holes leaving room for inefficiency to
thrive so much so the public sector today is identified with
lethargy and incompetence.
One has only to walk into any state institution today to
establish this fact. Desolate departments, Staff huddled in
groups, others hanging on telephones, unattended files, idle
fans, vacant desks and the general air of disorder all complete
the picture of decay and lassitude.
The general public who come to attend to their tasks are
treated with contempt and as an intrusion into this happy
setting. They are being sent from pillar to post for some simple
matter that could have been attended promptly with the stroke of
a pen. The public complaints of harassment at the hands of these
so called Public servants paid for by the public purse is all
too familiar to need special mention. Newspaper correspondence
are full of these incidents but no remedial action has been
Time was when our public service was the envy of some of the
advanced countries where rigid discipline was maintained and
staff held accountable. Today there is no accountability nor
discipline. In fact the public servant is today a law unto
himself secure in the political patronage. This has bred a
culture impunity in the public sector that is today enveloped in
lethargy and inefficiency.
Therefore a daunting task lies before the President in
effecting a turn around. Like many things post war a complete
overhaul is needed in the public sector as well to make it an
efficient body that would deliver the goods to the public.
The entrenched image of the public servant has to undergo a
drastic transformation. Each and every public servant should be
made accountable and bear responsibility. The deadwood should be
weeded out and replaced with efficient personal. Though
politicisation of the public sector cannot be done away with
overnight no person or group should be allowed to throw his or
her weight based on political influence.
A new code of ethics should be drawn for the public sector
with the accent on discipline. Salaries and wage increases
should be linked to output and not automatic. There should be no
place for shirkers or clock watchers or time servers. Courtesy
should be instilled in the public servant in dealing with the
public. In short the public sector as a whole should be
transformed into an efficient engine to meet the emerging
challenges in the post war era.
The country is now on the threshold to take off on the path
to development and prosperity. Every individual should therefore
put his shoulder to the wheel to attain the new goals set for
the nation. The public servant has a major role to play in this